Charging in the Wrong Direction
The Chargers of Alabama-Huntsville are off to a pretty rough start this year, opening their season with four straight road losses, then two more at home against Arizona State. To be fair, however, the road losses were all against NCHC powerhouse teams, having faced the top three teams in that conference.
Mike Corbett returns as the bench boss, also returning are two of their top 4 points –getters in Defenseman Kurt Gosselin and Christian Rajic – Josh Kestner graduated last season, who was the top point-scorer, and Tyler Poulsen, who is now with the Rapid City Rush of the ECHL.
The Chargers in the coaches’ poll came in 9th in voting, 5 points behind #7 LSSU. In the media poll, conducted by UAHhockey, however, they were chosen to be #7, 12 points ahead of #8 LSSU. While the preseason polls don’t really mean much, it does show that these two teams are behind the same eight-ball, and this series could help decide who gets into the playoffs come March.
A New Seasons Means A New Hope
It was quite the offseason for the Lakers this summer. J.T Henke, Kyle Chatham, Aiden Wright and Ryan Renz all graduated, with Henke being the top scorer for the Lakers. Along with them, defenseman Matt McArdle graduated, and decided to transfer to Merrimack. Luckily the reunion went our way. All of this was topped off with a four-year contract extension for bench boss Damon Whitten, the departure of longtime assistant coach Rich Metro to Shattuck-St. Marys and the hiring of Zack Cisek from Notre Dame.
While the Lakers may have lost Henke, they have gained some talent in return. Many of the incoming freshman forwards have been noticeable on the ice. Looking at just the two Merrimack games, two freshmen, Pierre-Luc Veillette and Jacob Nordqvist are both tied for first in total points.
They return all three goalies. While it sounds like the starting two are basically set in stone, Bengert certainly has a chance at starting at some point this season if either Kossoff or Mitens gets into a slump. This is also the first time in a while where it feels like the third goalie will really push the top two to be better & to keep their spot. All in all this is a good thing, and should make for an entertaining season.
This weekend’s series will be hosted at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL. Puck drop is at 7:07CT, so you can catch Matt Pocket on 99.5 Yesfm at 8:07 EST. You can also stream the series from FloHockey.tv